Board meeting decorum hits a low

It would be rare for an Oakland school board meeting to take place without a little heat. There’s usually some shouting and almost always a healthy dose of criticism leveled at the state administration, which has run the district for the last four years.

But it went to a new level tonight — at least, since I’ve been covering these meetings.

Jonah Zern, an organizer with an Oakland-based group called Education Not Incarceration, was upset that a moratorium on school closures was not on the agenda, as promised by board member Chris Dobbins. Zern prefaced his public comments by saying he was having trouble controlling his rage. Then he let it go.

“You imbeciles!” he shouted in the direction of State Administrator Kimberly Statham.
Then: “You, as a state administrator, need to get out. Get out!”

Dobbins, a new board member, explained after the meeting that he had introduced the moratorium resolution without knowing the agenda-making protocol — in other words, that he jumped the gun.

He said it will be on the agenda in August.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://www.ednotinc.org Jonah Zern

    My comment was that the State Administrator and her staff involved with the closing of East Oakland Community High School are culturally incompetant (out of touch with our community) and imbeciles because they stated that East Oakland Community High School students will be more safe now that they are closing their school; that they will be sent to other schools such as Castlemont High School, where there have been 4 shootings either into the school or within a block of the school over during the last school year. After attending East Oakland Community High Schools commencement this morning and seeing the beauty and passion that students felt for this school, I stand by my comment.

    Perhaps the next blog could talk about “a new low” that California is adding 53,000 new prison beds and shutting down its elementary schools. This seems a little more pressing.

  • James Jones, Jr., 2007 SSC Chair Sherman Elementary

    Maybe that is true; maybe they are what you say they are but, the accusation that they are directly responsible for sending kids to prison is ridiculous. I too have my problems with the way OUSD does business; I served as chairman of my schools SSC and attended the District meetings this year and organized parents and volunteered at the school and the whole nine; and the conclusion I’ve come to is that OUSD is broken. And it is the collective faults of the Administrators, Staff, Teachers and their union and the Parents. A solution can only be created by us all working together. Hurling ridiculous personal insults and making sweeping accusations toward those individuals that we are going to have to work with to create solutions to our problems, is counterproductive and almost juvenile. Your house is 4 or 5 minutes walking distance from Sherman Elementary, where I was the SSC Chairman, I don’t recall you ever being concerned about our school or our students until their was a Press opportunity. If you really care, get involved in a way that helps instead of alienates. I saw the results for EOC High; 1% proficient in Math? Lying on transcripts? How could anyone make and argument to keep that school open? The kids may have liked it but, it was not a school, it was a community center; and maybe that’s what is should be. Those parents can pull their kids from the district and sign them up for independent study or homeschooling and send them to EOC Community center for their education.